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Character Education


"Reformers" who favor a market-based approach open the door to profiteering. Mixing the profit motive with an essential service like education is a potential disaster Individual reformers may be well-intentioned. But to allow private companies access to billions of dollars in public funding and still expect the focus to be solely on children seems naive. And why is it that the people who purportedly care about kids so much don't spend every day with them? Practice what you preach. If you care, get in the classroom. That's where real reform happens.

Do you have any specific examples of market-based reformers being carelessly called profiteers? This article seems overly generous in laying the blame on both "sides". I'm sure there are some instances but the so-called corporate reformers monopolize the discussion in the MSM.

Demian, you can start with me: I am very, very flattered that Matt put me on his blogroll - I hadn't noticed until right now. I think this is one of the two must-read blogs on ed policy (Bruce Baker has the other), and I think Matt is an MVP on this topic. But I completely disagree with Matt's contention in the post above that it is unfair to ascribe ulterior motives to the corporate "reformers": In sum: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it". - Upton Sinclair

Demian -- Leonie Haimson and Diane Ravitch (who tweeted this post, oddly enough) use the term "privateer" all the time.

Stuart - "privateer" is in fact what many market reformers explicitly want so this is a descriptive term. The shanker blog points out that it's not fair to assume privateers are _profiteers_. In general, this is an important distinction. There are undoubtedly instances where this is done. My point is that these seem few and far between compared to cases accusing non-market reformers being accused of looking out for adults over kids. The latter are littered in the MSM. The former are occasionally found in tweets or small-time blogs. Where is a case in the MSM?

Jersey Jazzman - Thanks for the link. I think you add at least a "shred of substance" to the debate :). Still, does it matter that what privateers motivation is? Are there actions not enough to argue against? Certainly, when the motivations are laid bare, as with Jonah Edelman, criticism is warranted. Additionally, it seems warranted to argue that certain persons may have conflicts of interest - such as textbook reps developing curriculum. But, merely calling someone a profiteer could be name-calling. Though, again, in practice I see the name-calling much more from market reformers - especially in the MSM.

Demian, no doubt the opprobrium is hardly equal. The lambasting the teacher unions are taking throughout the media is not close to the occasional snark I and others throw the way of the corporate "reformers." And thanks for the kind words.

Great points in this discussion. But I'd like to add that one shouldn't assume that a "best" solution will be found in "middle" ground.

If you are in doubt as to the motivations of the corporate "reformers" just read the blog Eduwonk or the book Class Warfare. It should become clear to you that the purpose of educational "reform" is making money through "edujobs," which are never teaching jobs. Many of us make these accusations because we truly believe the purpose of educational "reform" is to break into the new treasure trove of K-12 tax money. Please help teachers break the real status quo in education which of course is education by zip code. It's time for subsidized housing in all American communities so poor children of color will no longer be segregated in low-performing schools. Another way to break the shameful tradition of education by color and zip code is to provide public school vouchers to impoverished children. Herding poor kids into the same schools is damaging to all of us.

Thanks for a great post. I think you pointed out a serious issue. Unfair name-calling (which, as you pointed out, is recognized by even the name-callers as false) doesn't contribute or help the discussion. Usually the best solutions are found somewhere in the middle. So the more we polarize and demonize the two sides, the harder it will be to access and find the best solution in the middle-ground.


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